Tag Archives: Cliff Hardy

A sit down with the Godfather: an interview with Peter Corris

As promised in my recent piece to mark the passing of Australian crime writer, Peter Corris, it gives me great pleasure to post a terrific, in-depth interview with the author that appeared in issue 14 of  the now defunct online journal, Crime Factory, in September 2013.The interview was conducted by avid crime reader and regular Crime Factory contributor, Andrew Prentice.

Crime Factory: Your pre-writing career was academia and journalism, wasn’t it?

Peter Corris: Yes

Where did the shift take place into writing novels?

I was working at the National Times when the first of the Hardy books came out, in 1980. I was the literary editor, sending the books out, doing the reviews, and also doing some interviewing pieces, sports people, politicians…and the first book was a success, very well reviewed.

That was The Dying Trade?

That’s the one. And I’d already finished the second one because I enjoyed doing the first one so much, and had started a third one, and well, the ball just got rolling, even though it took about 5 years for the first one to get published. I gave up the journalism and was bringing in enough from the books and writing short stories to get going. I should add I had a working wife as well, which was helpful.… Read more

A few thoughts on the passing of Peter Corris, the father of modern Australian crime fiction

I suspect a lot of fans of contemporary Oz crime fiction, and more than a few of its current practitioners, may have forgotten or perhaps don’t even know the debt we all owe to Sydney based crime writer Peter Corris, who died last night at the age of 76.

I have written a bit about Corris on this site and others. And given Pulp Curry originally started off wholly dedicated to crime fiction, I wanted to make a few observations about an author who has given me a lot of pleasure, as well as being incredibly influential on Australian crime fiction.

Corris’ debut novel, The Dying Trade, was published in 1980 (something must have been in the water that year because it also saw the publication of Grabrielle Lord’s important first novel, Fortress). The Dying Trade introduced the hardscrabble Sydney private investigator, Cliff Hardy.

Hardy is an ex-insurance claims investigator and army veteran, who served during the so-called “Malaya Emergency” in the 1950s when Australian troops were brought in to help the British control that country’s growing communist insurgency. In many respects, Hardy was typical of the breed of PI characters that were popular in the US, stretching right back to the work of Raymond Chandler. He liked a drink.… Read more

Cross examinations: a review of Louis Nowra’s Kings Cross A Biography

KCIn the late eighties I visited Sydney with my girlfriend at the time. We stayed in a fleabag hotel in the middle of Kings Cross, walked around the neon-lit streets at night and bought a bag of marijuana off an emaciated dealer in an alley next to a strip joint. It turned out to be mostly dried parsley.

Not much of a connection with Australia’s capital of sleaze and sin, I know. But what my real life interactions lacked, imagination made up for, fuelled by Kings Cross’s place in Australian popular culture.

One of my favourite fictional private investigators, Cliff Hardy, the creation of Sydney author Peter Corris, has done his fair share of time knocking around the Cross. The terrific 1995 television mini-series Blue Murder and the not-so-wonderful Underbelly: Razor and Underbelly: The Golden Mile also did their bit to maintain its unsavoury reputation.

You can read the rest of this piece on the Overland website here.

Blood Money and other Australian crime films you’ve probably never heard of

MaloneIf you haven’t heard of the 1980 Australian film Bloody Money, don’t worry, you’d be in good company. Clocking in at just over 62 minutes, it’s an unpolished little gem of a heist film and almost completely unavailable.

John Flaus plays Pete Shields, an aging Sydney criminal who experiences an emotional epiphany after a diamond robbery he’s involved in goes violently wrong and his doctor informs him he’s got terminal cancer.

Shields returns to Melbourne, his hometown, where he has family, a little brother Brian (Aussie icon Bryan Brown), having trouble going straight, and Brian’s wife, Jeannie. There’s a lot of unfinished emotional business between them, including Shields’s affair with Jeannie years ago that may mean he is father of her and Brian’s daughter.

Pete also has unfinished criminal business with a gang run by Mister Curtis (Peter Stratford). To make sure his brother doesn’t fall back into their clutches, Pete takes Curtis’s gang apart man by man then kidnaps the crime boss’s daughter for a $50,000 ransom.

Blood Money has a definite Get Carter vibe, including the ending where Shields, having exchanged the daughter for the cash, is gunned in a remote quarry.

It’s not the greatest local crime film ever made, but Director John Ruane (who went on to do Death in Brunswick) gives it a grainy realism that draws the viewer in.… Read more

Top 5 crime reads for 2011

I was recently asked by the UK site Crime Fiction Lover to list my top five crime novels for 2011.

I cheated a little and, in addition to my top five, gave a few honourable mentions. Money Shot, Christa Faust’s first Angel Dare novel (the second having recently come out), Frank Bill’s short story collection Crimes in South Indiana, Roger Smith’s Dust Devils, and Yvette Erskine’s gritty police procedural The brotherhood were all in contention for my top five in 2011.

But my final list was:

5. Butcher’s Moon – Richard Stark (University of Chicago Press)

I waited ages to read Butcher’s Moon by Richard Stark aka Donald Westlake. It was almost impossible to get a copy until University of Chicago Press, which has been gradually re-leasing all the Parker books, published it. 

First released in 1974, Butcher’s Moon was the last Parker book before Westlake took a 23-year rest from the character. It takes Parker back to the familiar territory of his earlier books The Hunter and The Outfit, hot on the trail of money owed him by the mob. A failed heist sends Parker to an amusement park where he stashed $73,000 during a previous caper several years earlier. Parker enlists the help of his only friend, another thief called Grofield.… Read more